Despite the fact that the captain (Matt O'Toole) had, during the week, put in the kind of military-level planning that would have been more suited to an MI6 Secret Service operation behind enemy lines in Eastern Donesk, the 4th XI's travel plans went straight out of the window Saturday morning as Taus decided to keep the captain (and Luke) waiting almost an hour beyond their agreed meeting time, with only the characteristic "Sorry, Boss" by way of apology. Sometimes you just want to slap that big, chain-smoking lump, but probably not a good idea. This meant that we were were going to arrive late, so Shakey (Neil D'Mello) was delegated to toss up and stuck us in, in what turned out to be horrendous blustery and wet conditions. Cagoules, anyone?
A long day ensued, not helped by the weather, which led to the odd delay. With a boundary that was spitting distance from the edge of their square (it was as short as Forest Gump's haircut) and bowling that was as generous as drunk in a gentlemen's club on payday, Alexandra Park's openers cashed in. Shaz Butt and Dilan Camball in particular received the kind of punishment most people would pay leather-clad inhabitants of dungeons for - orcs, I'm referring to orcs or dwarves, kids! - as they were consistently despatched for boundaries, Shaz going for four no ball sixes and ending up costing us 51 runs from just two overs. Suffice to say, this wasn't his best bowling spell and Matt made some quick bowling changes. After 20 overs they were on 168-0 (ouch! we hadn't even reached drinks!) and it took us another 29 runs before we finally saw one of them walking back to the pavilion (Shaz had thrown the ball over the stumps from the boundary to run him out!). Our bowling changes did have some effect in slowing the accumulation of runs, however; in particular, a change of ends appeared to suit young Luke Saunders who had an excellent second spell and picked up 3 wickets (10-0-58-3) and Patrick Elway again demonstrated that he could consistently put the ball in the right spot, as he returned the most economical figures of the day (6-0-21-2). Eventually, the opposition decided to take the Dignitas route and put us out of our misery, by declaring on 297-7 after just 42 overs. So, a big chase was on (with 50 overs to use up).
As this was almost certainly a dead rubber (prior to the game we did retain a mathematically slim chance of still getting promoted this year, but only if several other results went perfectly for us - quite honestly, we'd have had better chances with the Euro Millions), but it was worth going for it regardless (might as well!), so that's what Matt told his openers (Dilan and Shaz, the latter was opening for the first time for Teddington).
A steady pursuit ensued and, after Dilan (8) had skied one, Shaz and Patrick began to build an innings together, carefully selecting the right shots to hit towards a boundary that was shorted than Danny De Vito (or Snodders, if you don't know who Danny De Vito is - really?). Anyway, after 20, we were 100-3, after Patrick had been stumped and Matt (after a century in the previous game against these guys), decided to reduce his season's average by getting a second duck for the season to a ball that was going so slowly, it might as well have been going backwards. Neil came to the crease and mixed aggression with defence in good order, before he was cleaned up by one of their openers (who had been on their openers who had taken advantage of the Teddington bowling buffet we'd put on earlier to score a comfortable ton). This bowler was a chap called Zahid, who seemed to intent on winning the game single-handed, regardless of how much rain was coming down or how dark it was getting.
Garry was given out LBW by Matt and then Shaz's (surprisingly) excellent innings (118) was finally brought to a close. This had been his first ever ton, was the highest 4th XI score this season and had included 15 x 4s and 2 x 6s. He'd batted really maturely throughout the whole innings and unsurprisingly didn't want to leave the crease when he was finally given out caught and bowled.
Taus and Hasan Mufti played a few shots to get us to 219 with 6 overs left and another 79 required. However, by this time, the rain was coming down in sheets and Matt had already had to insist that the fired-up Zahid had to bowl spin or not ball at all; however, one more over, it was clear to everyone when Taus fired a ball past one of their fielders on the boundary who stood there, shrugging his shoulders and indicated that he hadn't seen a thing, it became clear to everyone that play had become too dangerous for both the batsmen and fielders, so Matt and his opposite number (Ashish) decided to call it a day and settle for a draw, with us getting 1 point and them getting 4, meaning we would be both be level on 74 points after this, both teams guaranteed mid table medocrity this season.
It had been an eventful game for both the wrong and the right reasons. Anyway, onwards and upwards (or most likely sideways-ish - just moving up or down a couple of places before the season is over!)